Archive for September, 2011

Build Big Biceps

In every gym that you go to, you will see people pumping their biceps. Biceps along with the pecs and abs are sometimes called vanity muscles because they are the most visible and therefore commands the most respect. Invariably, when you ask someone to show you his muscles, he will probably flex his biceps.

Before we discuss biceps development, I want to point out that the biceps make up only one third of your upper arm with triceps the other two-thirds. So to have an impressive arm, you must build your triceps too or the effort on your biceps will not show good results. Many people fail to realize this and that is why you see them doing curl after curl without much improvement. We will touch on triceps exercises in another article. For now, let’s talk about biceps.

Here are some exercises that will blast your biceps. Most of you would have done some or all of these exercises. Perform each exercise for 3-5 sets once or twice a week and at reps between 6-10, but make sure that at the high end of the reps, you will not be so fatigued that you can’t perform another rep in good form.

a) Standing Barbell Curl/ EZY Bar
You can perform this exercise with either a straight bar or an ezy bar. This is a great mass building exercises for your biceps.

Stand with feet shoulder width apart and grasp the bar with an underhand grip, hands should also be about shoulder width apart. Curl the bar up slowly focusing intensely on the biceps contraction. Do not swing or use momentum to curl especially at the later stages when your biceps get weaker. Never swing or move your body, only your arms are moving. Keep your elbows locked to the side of your body and do not pivot them.

Then lower the weight, taking 3-4 seconds resisting the weight on the way down to emphasize the negative part of the exercise. Never let gravity pull the weights down.
At all times, do not curl or bend your wrist which must always be in a straight neutral position.

Bicep Curl

b) Incline Dumbbell Curls
This exercise will hit different fibre in your biceps and gives you the peak bicep look.
Sit back on an incline bench holding a dumbbell in each hand, keep your elbows well forward throughout the movement, curl the weight upward and toward the shoulder level. Then squeeze your biceps hard at the top position. Lower the weights again, slowly under full control. The speed and techniques are similar to what was described earlier.

c) Preacher Curl
Similar to barbell curl but using the preacher curl station. This is an excellent bicep peaking isolation exercise.

d) Hammer Curl
Hammer curl gives your biceps the full look and your forearms are also working hard.
Similar to incline dumbbell curl except you will be using the hammer grip on the dumbbell like holding a hammer knocking nails in and standing up instead of sitting down.

e) Build Biceps Tips
Focus on the movement of your biceps all throughout the motion. Don’t lift weights that are too heavy that will compromise your form and techniques to show off.
By slightly turning and squeezing, you’ll build more peak on your biceps. Like all exercises, pose and stretch the biceps between sets. This is to flush out lactic acid and help your biceps recover better for the next set.
Remember to change the order of the exercises you perform after 6-8 weeks to shock your biceps into new growth and watch those arms grow!

The Myth of Gaining Muscle Without Fat!

Many of you have expressed concerns about gaining too much body fat while on such a high calorie diet, and wonder if you should do some aerobic exercise to offset the weight gain. Absolutely not.

That will be detrimental to gaining muscle. For best results, you either have to train and diet to gain muscle or lose fat. One or the other. If you are a true hardgainer, you cannot do both. If you try, you won’t make any substantial progress either way. So, now is the time to gain weight. You’ll worry about losing fat later.

The fact is that there are no magic pills, powders, foods or exercises that will allow you to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.

It’s all determined by your genetics and metabolism. Some people can do it, some can’t. If you are naturally thin and have a difficult time gaining weight of any kind, it would be silly of you to think that you will be able to gain muscle while trying to keep your body fat low.

Most skinny guys want to gain more muscle, but are afraid of gaining body fat. They see all the bodybuilder photos and read the stories about people gaining pounds of muscle while losing pounds of fat — They want to do the same. When looking at these photos, you have to remember that most of these people do not have your body type. The majority of them are overweight and want to lose fat, not gain muscle.

‘Well’, you say, ‘What about those people who transformed their bodies? They lost fat and gained muscle’. Yes, but almost all of these people were overweight, or had high levels of body fat. In other words, their metabolisms were, for the most part, slow. They simply dieted and trained for fat loss.

Weight training helped them to tone up and slightly increase their muscle mass by replacing some of the fat with muscle. However, you will never increase your body mass far above your original starting weight on that type of diet.

In other words, even though you gain some muscle, you will actually weight less!
For example, Bill weighs 189lbs with 18% body fat. This works out to be 34lbs of fat and 155lbs of muscle. He then goes on a fat loss diet and slowly diets down to a ripped 5% body fat at 168lbs, which is 8.4lbs of fat and 160lbs of muscle. He lost 26lbs of fat, and his weight only went down by 21lbs. So, looking that this we realize that he managed to also gain 5lbs of muscle. You can see that he has more muscle mass than when he started, and he looks totally ripped, but his weight decreased because his main goal was fat loss. He looks much better, and his measurements changed, but he only increased his total weight by five pounds.

If you are very thin, you can’t do this. Yes, your body fat will decrease, and this will also give you more muscle mass, but it will not increase your weight. You will just get much thinner. Bill was ‘big’ to begin with; you are not. To get the same results as Bill, you must first gain the weight, and then concentrate on losing the body fat later. Bill had the size; he just needed to trim down. We do not have the size to work with, so we have to force our bodies to grow beyond our body’s comfort range. This is the hard part.

This is why if you want to grow beyond your current size, you have to diet for it specifically.

Remember, most of you have extremely fast metabolisms. Gaining weight will be extremely difficult.

The only way you will get bigger is to shock your body.
You must shock your body by:
1. Training with heavy weights, and
2. Eating a lot of calories.

The first shock is with weight training. You must focus on compound free- weight exercises, and lift heavy weights, which will stimulate the largest amount of muscle fibers. Your body responds to this stimulus by increasing your muscle mass.

The second way you must shock your body is by eating more calories than your body is used to. This is the most important factor in gaining mass. When you overload your system with plenty of protein and fats, your body has no other choice but to gain weight. If your not gaining weight, you are simply not eating enough.

Building Big Strong Shoulder Muscles

Most people think that in order to get that V shaped upper body like comic book super heroes, they only have to develop big broad back muscles and lats. Well, by having broad back muscles and well developed lats is only part of the equation to gettting a V shape upper body. For complete V shape upper body development, you will also need to build big strong shoulder muscles.

We shall discuss how to build big shoulder muscles in this article. You see, you may have a wonderful six pack abs or well defined chest muscles, but when you are in your street clothes, no one can see them. But if you have that massive V shape with bulging shoulder muscles, your body frame will tell the world that under those clothes is a well defined body of a gym warrior.

Image of rear delts

As with building any muscles in your body, intensity is the key to building big deltoids. Your shoulder muscles are made up primarily of the anterior deltoid (front delt), medial deltoid (middle delt) and posterior deltoid (back delt). All 3 parts of your shoulder muscles must be targeted to build well defined and big strong deltoids that threaten to burst through your shirt. The problem here is that most people don’t know that they must work on all 3 shoulder muscles and do most shoulder workouts by just concentrating on the anterior delts with exercises such as military press. Furthermore, working only on anterior delts could lead to over training your shoulder muscles because many other exercises like the bench press, dips and push ups also recruit the anterior delts.

Your should be careful when working on your shoulder muscle exercises as your shoulders joints are very susceptible to injuries and therefore proper form in executing the exercises is crucial. Don’t let bad exercise form cause you injuries that may be permanent and put you out of the gym forever.

One common injury prone exercise is the narrow grip upright row. Although this is a great trapezius and shoulder muscle exercise, it should be avoided because this exercise invokes unnatural and awkward shoulder joint movement. If you absolutely must do upright rows, take a wider grip (12-14 inches between the hands) and don’t bring your elbows higher than your shoulders.

So what exercises are good for building big strong deltoids? Well, besides the military presses, try Arnold Press, Lateral Raise, Bent Over Lateral Raises, Shoulder Width Upright Row and Shoulder Cable exercises. Ask your personal trainer or read up on how to perform these exercises in excellent form for great shoulder muscle development.

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